Snap, the maker of the Snapchat messaging app, has long positioned itself as a camera company.
On Thursday, it unveiled a flying one. Called Pixy, the drone camera can help people take selfies without the aid of a selfie stick. Users hold the pocket-size camera in their palm and select a flight mode via a dial on the device’s body. The gadget then flies for a minute, taking photos and videos that it downloads to the user’s private Snapchat drive before landing back in the user’s palm.
“It gives you a totally new perspective, actually allows you to have fun and go hang out with your family and create videos all together,” Evan Spiegel, Snap’s chief executive, said in an interview.
Pixy is Snap’s first hardware product since Spectacles, which were glasses with embedded cameras and augmented-reality features. Spectacles debuted to hourslong lines in 2016 but ultimately underperformed. In 2021, Snap released a new version of Spectacles that let people see augmented-reality filters overlaid on the physical world.
Snap is selling Pixy for $229.99, with additional batteries for $19.99 and a dual battery charger for $49.99. The company said it planned to sell the camera “while supplies last” in the United States and France.
In 2020, Amazon also announced a flying camera, the $249 Ring Always Home Cam. The surveillance drone flies around its owner’s home and records video, ostensibly for security purposes. It was immediately pilloried on social media as a privacy hazard.
Mr. Spiegel said he was unfamiliar with Amazon’s product. He said Snap’s flying camera was not a privacy problem because its bright yellow color, recording light and engine sounds made it conspicuous.
“I don’t think there are privacy concerns when it comes to other people being recorded without their knowledge,” he said.
Snap announced Pixy alongside a suite of augmented-reality products — which overlay filters and visual effects on the real world — at its annual event for developers and advertisers. It also introduced new tools for businesses that allow shoppers to virtually try on their products. Snap said people had engaged with its products for augmented-reality shopping five billion times since January 2021.
“We see our biggest opportunity over time to really be reinventing the camera,” Mr. Spiegel said. “Pixy is a continuation of this experimentation and innovation around what the camera is capable of.”